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A tree 30 to 40, occasionally 70 ft high; young shoots covered with short reddish hairs; buds small, resinous. Leaves amongst the shortest in firs, 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, 1⁄16 to 1⁄12 in. wide; rounded and usually notched at the apex; dark glossy green above, with two broad, very white bands beneath, each composed of six to twelve rows of stomata. Cones 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long, 1 to 11⁄4 in. wide, purple; bracts golden brown, much protruded, and bent downwards so as to hide the scales.
Native of the mountains of the S.E. United States, often forming forests at elevations of 4,000 to 6,000 ft. It was introduced by John Fraser, after whom it was named, about 1807. No silver fir ever introduced has proved of less value in English gardens than this, or shorter-lived; there is perhaps scarcely a good tree in the country, but, like A. balsamea, it is attractive when young. There are small examples at Westonbirt, Glos.; Crarae, Argyll; and in the National Pinetum, Bedgebury, Kent. It has been confused with A. balsamea, but in that species the bracts of the cone are very little or not at all protruded, the leaves have only four to eight lines of stomata in each band, and bear a few broken lines of stomata on the upper surface.
This species remains very rare. No specimen has been measured by Alan Mitchell since 1969.